DES MOINES, Iowa—"Celebrate the launching of the Socialist Workers Party branch organizing committee in Lincoln" and "2012 Iowa Socialist Workers Campaign—David Rosenfeld for U.S. Congress, 3rd CD, Margaret Trowe for State Senate District 18" read two banners displayed at a March 3 public meeting held at the Socialist Workers campaign headquarters here.
"We think there are openings to recruit to our movement today," Joe Swanson, organizer of the newly formed party branch organizing committee in Lincoln, Neb., told the meeting. "We are establishing a presence in Lincoln to strengthen the party's ability to participate in workers' resistance to the bosses' increasing attacks and to discuss the need for a revolutionary party with fellow workers."
Rosenfeld, who chaired the meeting, announced the launching of the party's election campaigns in three states: Washington, Illinois and Iowa.
"We are running to give a voice to workers resisting the bosses' attacks on the working class—from the Teamsters on strike against Nichols Aluminum in Davenport, Iowa, to the sugar workers in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota who have been locked out by American Crystal Sugar for seven months," Trowe told the audience.
About two dozen workers and a retired farmer came to the event from Des Moines, Lincoln, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas.
Swanson pointed to a number of the openings in Nebraska to join the struggles of workers and working farmers and to advance a communist program. He described the debate there over plans by the capitalist rulers and their governments in both Canada and the U.S. to build the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, and the stakes in this debate for the working class.
A lively discussion took place on whether workers should oppose pipelines transporting oil-sand extracted fuels or hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas.
Communists neither support the capitalists' projects nor do we agree with the liberal opponents who start with "environmental" questions without regard for the interests of the working class, Swanson explained. "Class-conscious workers start with where these questions fit along the line of march of workers toward taking political power. As long as the capitalists have state power, we will continue to see that they do not care one iota about environmental destruction, nor the lives of workers."
"We've been working with some teachers in the Lincoln high schools to organize a display of artwork by some of the Cuban Five revolutionaries," Swanson said. The five—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González—were framed up by the U.S. government on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit espionage to conspiracy to commit murder. (See article on page 4.)
"There is a reason why so many millions of African Americans have been targeted and thrown into the jaws of the so-called criminal justice system," Rosenfeld said, noting that the senate district Trowe is running in includes much of Des Moines' Black community. "The proven combativity of workers who are Black and the legacy of the struggles of the Black nationality in this country, including the massive proletarian movement that smashed the system of Jim Crow segregation, is a tremendous strength for the working class."
John Hawkins, the SWP candidate for Congress in Illinois' 3rd District addressed the meeting. Greetings were read from Mary Martin, the SWP candidate for governor of Washington state.
Maura DeLuca, who just moved from Des Moines to Lincoln to help set up the new branch organizing committee, described her recent trip to Cuba as a reporter for the Militant.
"We go to Cuba in order to build a revolutionary movement here, in the United States," she explained. "We report on the experiences of Cuban working people in making a sweeping revolution, both through the pages of the Militant and in Pathfinder books like Women in Cuba: The Making of a Revolution Within the Revolution, which was presented at the recent Havana International Book Fair. We do this to show how Cuban workers and peasants were transformed, took power and used it to transform the country to meet their needs."
After the program, conversations continued long into the night at a party in a nearby house.
The day after the meeting, Swanson and DeLuca left to participate in the convention of the National Farmers Union held in Omaha.